Headlines: October 1, 2020
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The fallout from Tuesday night’s Presidential debate continues, as Republican lawmakers supporting Donald Trump struggled to explain why he did not clearly denounce white supremacism. As a reminder, Trump in his first debate with Joe Biden said this in response to moderator Chris Wallace’s question. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to name Trump but said it is, “unacceptable not to condemn white supremacists.” Tim Scott, the Senate’s only Black Republican said that Trump “misspoke,” and should fix his error. But then he added, “If he doesn’t correct it, I guess he didn’t misspeak.” Senator Lindsey Graham said Trump should, “make it clear Proud Boys is a racist organization antithetical to American ideals.” On Thursday White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany got caught in a back-and-forth with Fox News reporter John Roberts who asked her as the president’s spokesperson to simply make a clear declaration against white supremacy. She refused, instead reading several of Trump’s past quotes. Fox reporter John Roberts later on his own network expressed his frustration about the White House’s deflections on taking a stand against white supremacy.
A day after the debate Mr. Trump suddenly remembered that he didn’t know who the Proud Boys were saying, “I really don’t know who they are.” But Republicans did back Trump on his debate threat to send his supporters to watch the polls on election night. The party is supporting the Trump campaign which, according to one report, “has distributed carefully lawyered training videos to prospective poll watchers around the country describing what they can and can’t do while monitoring the voting process.” Meanwhile the Los Angeles Times spoke with voters of color after the debate. Many saw the November 3rd race as a referendum on white supremacy. One Black voter told the Times, “As African Americans, this is nothing new to us. This is a modern-day expression of what has been happening for 400 years.”
In an interview with the New York Times Chris Wallace expressed deep regret for how the debate turned into a train wreck as Mr. Trump repeatedly shouted and interrupted Biden for nearly the entire 90-minute debate. Wallace said, “I never dreamt that it would go off the tracks the way it did.” And, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert took issue with Trump lying about his position on masks during the debate when he claimed that Fauci had changed his position on the importance of mask-wearing as protection from Covid-19. Fauci said after the debate, “I have been on the airways, on the radio, on TV, begging people to wear masks.” The President’s behavior was nearly universally condemned and his latest poll numbers reflected as much. The Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Wednesday that it would cut off the microphones of candidates that broke the rules in future debates.
Trump spoke at rally in Duluth, Minnesota on Wednesday evening where he continued to promote white supremacist views and took aim in particular at refugees in a state that has the largest population of Somali immigrants, whipping up a frenzied booing from his supporters. Trump also directly attacked Somali American former refugee and Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar claiming she was corrupt and citing fake news and conspiracy theories as his supporters chanted “lock her up.” Veteran reporter S.V. Date attended the rally and pointed out how, “Trump was openly, nakedly inciting racist hatred and division.” Omar has received death threats from Trump supporters and Republicans have never denounced him.
A new study by Cornell University researchers found that Trump is the biggest driver of disinformation comprising nearly 38% of what they call the overall “misinformation conversation.” The President’s campaign ads and other social media posts claiming falsely that Joe Biden is secretly struggling with ill health have gained traction after the debate. Trump spent a lot of time ahead of the debate lying about Biden using performance enhancing drugs. Meanwhile Facebook has announced that it will not allow ads that try to “delegitimize” the election results. The Trump campaign and the Republican Party have been a driver of fake news about the elections and in particular the accuracy of mail-in voting. In fact in a case in Montana, a federal judge rebuked the Trump campaign for filing a lawsuit over voting-by-mail and failing to show a single shred of evidence to back their case. In Alabama a judge blocked Republican officials from forcing onerous requirements on voting by mail. And in West Virginia, the Secretary of State there denounced Trump’s debate lie that shockingly claimed postal workers were selling ballots.
The Labor Department reported that 837,000 people filed for jobless benefits again last week, as unemployment rolls remain stubbornly high. Among the demographics hardest hit are Asian Americans who went from having some of the highest employment to among the lowest numbers of jobs. The White House has now said it backs the resumption of Covid-economic relief talks but wants unemployed Americans to only receive $400 a week in aid compared to the $600 they were getting before the CARES Act expired.
A new study found that Black American girls are five times more likely than white girls to face disciplinary measures in schools making them, “arguably the most at-risk student group in the United States.” Another study on racial bias, done by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, found that police in major cities across California issue citations to Black people far more than to white people for the same minor infractions. Latinos are also disproportionately impacted. Associated Press examined the state of police department budgets in the wake of massive racial justice protests and calls to “defund the police,” and found that many departments saw only “modest cuts,” in line with expected budgetary shortfalls during the pandemic. None had been defunded, including in Minneapolis where the City Council voted to do so.
And finally, internal documents from the Department of Homeland Security reveal that Trump officials were instructed to make positive comments about Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year old suspected shooter in the deaths of two Black Lives Matter protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In a set of talking points that were distributed internally, Homeland Security officials were told that media were incorrectly labeling Rittenhouse’s group Patriot Prayer as racist and that the boy in fact, “took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners.” Rittenhouse is facing charges in the killings and has become a hero to Trump and his supporters.